How to Choose a Kayak: What You Need to Know

How to Choose a Kayak

If you want to go kayaking, you will need to know how to choose a kayak. Kayaks are great for a number of water-scenic adventures, and some kayaks have special designs for individual purposes. In this article, we look at the five main factors to consider when buying a kayak.

Factors to Consider at a Glance:

If you are in a rush, here are the five factors to consider when buying a kayak:

  1. Where you want to kayak
  2. Sit-in or sit-on-top
  3. Kayak weight
  4. Shape and size
  5. Budget

How to Choose a Kayak

When buying a kayak, you will want to consider the following factors:

1. Where you want to kayak

How to Choose a Kayak

One of the first things you should know when buying a kayak is where you intend to use the kayak. Boats are not designed for specific water-types, but some models work better in some environments than others. Knowing where you’ll kayak will help you determine the features you will need.

Here are the places you might want to kayak:

  • Lake: If you want to kayak on a still-body lake or pond, almost any kayak will suffice. This water is gentle enough for either a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak. You will not need extra features.
  • River: Rivers involve more movement than lakes. For this reason, you may want additional features on your kayak. Most rivers are gentle enough for a standard kayak, though.
  • Rapids: Rapids are different from rivers. Do not buy a standard kayak for rapids. Instead, you will need to buy a kayak that is specifically designed for rapids.
  • Ocean: Coasts involve high amounts of wind, waves, and currents. When kayaking on the ocean, you will want a sit-in-boat with certain features like a tracking fin or skeg.

2. Sit-in or sit-on-top

There are two main types of kayaks: sit-in and sit-on-top.

Sit-in kayaks are the traditional design for kayaks. As the name suggests, you will sit inside the kayak with your feet stretched in front of you under the covered cargo. These kayaks come in recreational boats, day touring, and touring models. They are great for paddling to destinations.

How to Choose a Kayak

Here are the benefits of a sit-in kayak:

  • Comfortable when the outside environment is comfortable
  • Can control parts of the boat with your butt, knees, and feet if needed
  • More maneuverable
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to paddle

Sit-on-top kayaks are designed so that you are seated in an elevated position. These kayaks are used mainly for lakes and gentle rivers because they are more difficult to maneuver in currents. You are also almost guaranteed to get wet in these kayaks. Some models come with overnight storage for long trips.

How to Choose a Kayak

Here are the benefits of a sit-on-top kayak:

  • Easy to get on and off
  • Great for children
  • Comfortable when the outside environment is comfortable
  • Self-draining
  • Rod holder options

3. Kayak weight

Another factor you’ll want to consider is the kayak weight. Since you will need to be able to drag your kayak in and out of the water, its weight must be appropriate for your strength.

Unless you need a  heavy-duty kayak for specialty purposes, it is recommended to purchase a lightweight kayak. Lightweight kayaks are more useful for several reasons. They are easier to transport out of the water, and they are easier to get to higher speeds.

The material of the kayak determines its weight. Here are the three main material types:

  • Polyethylene plastic: This material is the heaviest of the three, but it is the least expensive. This material will also get degraded after long exposure to UV rays.
  • ABS plastic: This material is lighter and more expensive than polyethylene plastic. It also offers some protection against UV rays.
  • Composites: Composite kayaks are made from lightweight fiberglass and carbon-fiber. This material is the lightest of the three, but it is also the most expensive. Composite kayaks are protected from the sun but may get more damage from heavy impact.

4. Shape and size

The shape and size of a kayak will affect its storability and weight as well. Here are some size and shape factors to consider:

  • Length: The longer the boat, the more effective it will cruise on the water. Longer boats also come with more storage. The downside of longer boats is that they will be more difficult to store.
  • Depth: The depth of the boat can improve comfortability and offer storage as well. If you are a bigger person, you may want a kayak with more depth. Deep kayaks will be more difficult to store and be more prone to wind.
  • Width: Kayak width impacts stability and speed. The wider the hull, the more stable your kayak will be. At the same time, wider hulls are slower than narrow hulls.

5. Budget

The final factor to consider when buying a kayak is your budget. Kayaks come in a wide range of prices. You should be able to find one that matches your budget.

If you have a small budget, you will probably want to look for a basic model made with polyethylene plastic. These kayaks will work well on flat or gentle waters for an affordable price, but they may not be as durable as other options.

For a slightly more expensive and durable kayak, look for models made with ABS plastic. You may even want to consider kayaks with special features like hatches or seats.

If you want the best kayak money can buy, you will want a composite kayak. This will ensure the lightest and most UV resistant kayak. You may also want to look at more specialized kayaks for your specific needs.

How to Choose a Kayak

Conclusion

How to choose a kayak? When buying a kayak, you will want to decide the kayaking location, sit-in versus sit-on-top design, weight, shape and size, and budget. These factors will help you find a kayak that is perfect for you and your needs.